Losses in Week 1 are tough for any football. For a team with the expectations like the Falcons have it's even more tough. Add to it a loss as lopsided as Sunday's 30-12 one was and it's excruciating. There were good things and bad things in Sunday's game. A huge game by John Abraham helped carry the defense, but the offense turned the ball over three times. The offensive line wasn't able to withstand Chicago's constant pressure as the zone defense kept the Falcons from going deep. In all, it was a tough day, but the resilient Falcons have no choice but to regroup and renew.
Head Coach Mike Smith believes turnovers are as critical to wins and losses as any other stat in football. His team came up on the wrong side of that battle Sunday: "When you lose the turnover battle, it diminishes your chances of winning. We had two real costly turnovers, three overall and one was returned for a touchdown. It's not the way we want to start, but it's just the start of the season." *
The Falcons offensive line allowed five sacks of quarterback Matt Ryan on Sunday, but he said afterwards he wasn't feeling too bad. His frustrations came from not being able to make plays when they needed them: "I feel good. I feel fine coming out of that game. I think when you get behind against a defense like that, it's tough because they know you're going to throw the ball and they're a good pass rushing football team. We put ourselves in a tough spot getting down early and really in the second half being down by a big lead. It's something we have to address and get better at." *
Running back Michael Turner had one of the game's turnovers and he said those giveaways combined with the Falcons' inability to hit a big play here and there hurt their chances all day: "We kept shooting ourselves in the foot. Too many turnovers, starting with me, I had one out there too today. We've got to clean that up, take care of the football and don't put our defense in bad positions and keep the score closer than what it was so we can keep all phases in our game plan." *
Abraham went into the game prepared. From his film study he saw tendencies with Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler that he felt he could exploit. He was able to, but the big plays to go along with his weren't always there when they needed it: "I definitely saw a lot of things that I liked in the film room. I figured if we got on them early we could keep Cutler rattled. They came out and played a good game. They created turnovers and we didn't create enough turnovers on defense. They were able to make big plays when they needed them." *
Rookie running back Jacquizz Rodgers saw his first regular season action in Week 1, and on his first carry, linebacker Brian Urlacher was the one who brought him down: "To me, it was just a regular tackle. I didn't feel anything." *
The Falcons are taught to always have short memories when it comes to games like Sunday's. Rookie wide receiver Julio Jones is already adopting that mindset, saying shortly after the game that he's already moved on: "We've just got to get better. We have next week coming up; this game is over and done with. We have to focus on next week and get better." *
The NFL marked the 10th anniversary of the 9-11 attacks with beautiful pregame ceremonies before every game. All the victims and those fighting for our country were on the minds of players across the league, especially safety William Moore: "I was definitely very emotional because I have a step-brother in Afghanistan. It's a very touching thing to me. I talked to him before the game and asked him what I could do to show my appreciation. He said just go out and play. That's very touching to me. I just play football for him."